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    Respect vs Acceptance

    This week I read a Facebook status that hit me hard. Ravi Zacharias said, “It is self-defeating to trample underfoot everything others hold dear before giving them the message of Christ. My mother used to say, ‘There is no point cutting off a person’s nose and then giving them a rose to smell.’” He followed it up with this post, “Listening is a vital part of responding. The more and the better we hear others, the more and the better others will hear us.” I’m probably not alone when I say I often see this ideal within Christian circles that hearing out philosophies/theories/concepts that we don’t agree with—or just being…

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    Advent of the Redeemer – Part 4

    For Unto us is Born this Day in the City of David But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity. Micah 5:2 The Christmas frenzy has come and gone and our Advent reflection has drawn to a close. This past Sunday across the world, Christians of all denominations remembered Mary and Joseph’s journey to the tiny city of Bethlehem. It was in that village, within walking distance of the City of Peace, that our Prince of Peace was…

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    Advent of the Redeemer – Part 3

    “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Maybe these words evoke images of Easter week more than Christmas, Good Friday more than the Advent season. We are now in our third week of looking at the Advent through the eyes of the Old Testament saints. In some denominations this past Sunday would have been celebrated as Gaudette Sunday, a celebration of joy. What does Christ’s soul-wrenching cry from the cross have to do with a Sunday that focuses on joy? Hebrews 12:2 says, “…for the joy set before Him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of…

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    Advent of the Redeemer – Part 2

    During the four weeks of Advent, I want to explore four pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament. As I shared last week, my pastor (Nathan Franckhauser) teaches that, “Old Testament believers looked to a Messiah, the Seed of Abraham, who was coming. We look to a Messiah who died on a cross and was risen three days later and will return.” Having looked at Jesus as Creator and how He modeled redemption through creation, now I want to look at the Akedah. Arguably the most important scene in the Old Testament. The binding of Isaac. The moment where love drove Abraham to sacrifice his only son. My oldest son…

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    Advent of the Redeemer – Part 1

    December second marked the beginning of this year’s advent season. Different denominations have different ways to celebrate just as different families have different ways to celebrate. As a child in the Methodist church, I looked forward to the lighting of the advent candle inside the advent wreath. One candle was lit each week leading up to Christmas while we remembered the hope, love, joy, and peace that Jesus brings us. On Christmas Eve, the last and largest candle was lit to symbolize Jesus as the Light of the World. (The Advent wreath began in the time of the Protestant reformer Martin Luther.) Though I enjoyed the stories and sense of…

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    Living in God’s Presence Part 2

    I have a confession—and I do appreciate the ridiculous paradox of what I’m about to say—but I didn’t have high expectations for my blog post Living in God’s Presence. Up to the point that I hit send on the email to my pastor, and later when I pressed publish on my website, I wondered—in contrast to the message of the entire post—if maybe I was confusing obsessive tendencies for Godly zeal. Then I started reading feedback and realized something—this questioning… this uncertainty… hit home with other Christians. This quiet doubt that was snaking its way into my head and heart was also at work worming its way into the heads…

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    Sunshine Blogger Award

    I’ve had the honor of being nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award—not once but twice in the last couple months. My first nomination for this peer-recognition award came from Gia at giaknows.com. Gia is a passionate Christian and raw vegan minimalist who invites others to walk with her towards better health through the powerhouse of info she provides on her blog. Check it out and follow her social media profiles: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. My second nomination came from a fellow faith blogger, Stephen De La Vega. Stephen faithfully and fearlessly blogs about his pursuit of God. He shines a love of Biblical understanding and invites us to…

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    Open Letter to Those who have Failed Jesus

    My pastor’s sermon a few Sundays ago, His Word Endures Forever, came for me on the heels of seeing, and listening to, John MacArthur. One of the sermon’s points was especially impactful to me after listening to Mr. MacArthur’s witness of a long and unblemished ministry. (If you’d like a chance to listen to His Word Endures Forever, it can be accessed here. My pastor, Nathan Franckhauser, talked about how Christians are apt to shrink into themselves when they are called out on a tarnished witness or reputation. The label of hypocrite can be as effective as a piece of duct tape over our mouths, shutting us up, telling us we aren’t…

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    Growth through Hardship

    Our gift from God. Have you ever faced an unanswered prayer? Challenging relationships? Difficult circumstances? Trick question. Of course the answer is yes if you’ve lived long in this world. I’ve been thinking a lot about learning lessons in life. Spiritual lessons. Slowly, I’m realizing that no matter how desperate I am for answered prayer—as I interpret “answered”—getting what I want may not be the best thing for my growth. Why? Because when I get what I want, I don’t grow. Despite the present-day gospel presentation, Jesus never promised an easy life post-personal redemption. In fact what he promised was the exact opposite. In John 16:33, Jesus told us, “In…

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    Running toward Empty

    As I was researching last week’s blog post, I came across two facts that particularly stood out to me. First, according to the USDA, domestic dogs are more of a threat to sheep than many large predators. Hang in there, I know it doesn’t sound that interesting. But it is. Here’s why. Domestic dogs are more of a threat than large, wild predators because they (dogs) don’t just attack, kill, and be done with it—they chase sheep to the point of exhaustion. Running toward Empty I don’t know why the picture of being chased to exhaustion resonated with me. Maybe because it’s so easy to arrive at that reality. Maybe…